Green-fingered volunteers help families enjoy their outdoor space

Midsummer means gardens everywhere are bursting with life, and keeping lawns trimmed and shrubs under control can feel like a full time job.

For the families Noah’s Ark supports, looking after the garden is often last on the list of priorities, which is where our gardening volunteers step in!

As Helen Marshall Team Leader (Home Support and Family Activities Support Volunteering) at Noah’s Ark explained. “Many families are unable to use their gardens if their grass grows too long. When our volunteer gardeners have finished cutting the grass and trimming back low hedges, it really makes all the difference.”

Charles O’Toole has been volunteering with Noah’s Ark families for six years, working as a driver, supporting siblings at family events and as a gardener. He was introduced to the charity by his wife, a social worker.

“I’d retired, so I signed up – I enjoy gardening. I have an allotment of my own, growing fruit and veg,” he said. “Now I do maybe 12 gardening jobs a year for Noah’s Ark families, during the spring and summer.” Charles is Noah’s Ark’s lead volunteer gardener, but is supported by other Home Support Volunteers, who pitch in as and when they are needed.

“The situation some families are in means they are preoccupied with their children’s health needs, and the gardens can get out of hand. I come in and mow the lawns, cut the hedges and generally give them a tidy up,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed volunteering. It’s useful work and I like getting gardens into shape, sorting them out. The families are always very pleased; they appreciate it tremendously.”

To anyone who fancies rolling up their sleeves and transforming a family’s outdoor space, Charles says, “don’t hesitate, if you’re interested. You don’t need any extra special skills. You can get advice about what to plant, what’s mainly needed is help with basic maintenance.”

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